Maybe It Should Be Called the Chevrolet ‘Vote’

The Chevrolet Volt is everything that is wrong with Washington on four wheels, and investors (that’s you and me) should be furious.

Wrong #1: The Volt should be re-named the Vote. Who can forget that Super Bowl ad, with the pseudo-assembly line of Volts rolling through Hamtramck, Michigan, and the voice overlay that “this isn’t the car we wanted to build; it’s the car America had to build…from the heart of Detroit to the help [sic] of the country.” How true—corporate welfare on wheels, buying votes in a state vital to the President’s re-election. There is simply no way that GM can kill it.

Wrong #2: Paying workers for not working. Several days before Christmas, production was phased out for the holidays, which in the case of the Volt plant, lasted until February 6. Last Friday, GM announced another shutdown, from March 19 through April 13, or five weeks. That’s right: the Hamtramck plant will produce “the car America had to build” for less than seven out of 18 weeks. When it’s open the plant only runs one ten-hour shift for four days a week. When the plant is shuttered, the 1,300 workers still get paid. Not counting obligations to retirement, the average hourly wage and benefits cost to GM union employees is about $55 per hour. Shareholders ponied up a little more than $30 million in wage costs alone for these 11 weeks of leisure. Nice job if you can get it! Of course, institutional overhead probably tacks on another $15 million or so. All while not one car is produced.



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